Author: Suzanne KuhnDocument Management Filing General Home Office Paper Productivity Project Management Receipts Tax Prep

Getting Your Affairs in Order—Making Lists Can Get You Started

filing-system“Get your affairs in order.”

What reaction comes up in you when you hear that phrase?  “I’ll think about that someday–in the distant future.” “I’m too young to bother with that stuff.”  “That’s for people with problems I don’t have yet—thank God.” “I wouldn’t know where to begin.”  “I don’t have any affairs to get in order!”

Do you have children under your care?  Are you responsible for an aging relative, in whole or in part? Is there someone with disabilities in your life? Do you feel uneasy when you hear of a catastrophic event happening to someone younger than you? Do you treasure your independence? Do you own a home and/or things that are special to you?  Do you do everything legally within your power to minimize your annual income taxes?

If you answered “yes” to even one of these questions, then starting now to get your affairs in order might make sense for you.

We usually associate getting our affairs in order with legal documents and professional experts such as wills, powers of attorney and advance directives, lawyers, accountants and financial planners.  While these documents and experts certainly play important roles in your well-ordered affairs, just making a few basic lists yourself can be a useful start:

  1. A list of all your bank and investment accounts, with their user IDs and passwords, account numbers, current balances, and phone numbers for the institutions themselves.
  2. A list of all your insurance policies, their policy numbers, what they cover, claims contact numbers, and where the full policy is filed.
  3. A medical list of all your diagnoses, prescriptions you take and their doses, and all your doctors with their specialties and contact numbers.  This list could also be for a child, a senior, or a person with disabilities under your care.
  4. A two-column list of the special people in your life and the special things you own, with individual lines connecting the people to the things.
  5. A list of the things you’ve hidden for safe keeping and where they are, for example, love letters from your spouse/partner; historic family photos; stock certificates; your mother’s wedding ring; the gold coins you bought as an investment.

Still feeling daunted? You might consider enlisting the help of a professional organizer to get your affairs in order.  Professional organizers are experts at helping people sort through quantities of papers and objects, separate the important from the inessential, and arrange useful objects and information in systems that are easily accessed and used.  Getting your affairs in order is just a process for capturing the essential information about you as a person and what you own, in a form that can be used readily by others if you become unable to communicate, along with legal documents that clearly express how you want yourself and your possessions to be handled.  You can do this, and an organizer just might provide you the support you need to get started!

Author: Yasmin GoodmanChallenging Disorganization General Goal Setting Home Organizing Procrastination Productivity Project Management Time Management

Curious George Isn’t Just for Kids!

Yasmin and Curious George

Kids May Have Curious George, But Adults Now Have Curious Accountability!

Like Curious George, who stimulates children’s natural curiosity about the world around them, Curious Accountability offers adults a new perspective for tasks associated with getting organized; one where they embark on an exciting journey of self discovery and realized goals. This methodology turns the act of getting organized into a skill building activity. Personal ‘aha’ moments promote longer lasting effects for those who want to get organized and remain organized over time.

At the National Association of Professional Organizers conference in New Orleans last month, Casey Moore and Cameron Gott introduced the concept of Curious Accountability. They defined this concept as “a positive evaluation process based on respect and trust that focuses solely on learning from actions (or inaction). The learning in turn, raises the awareness necessary for developing new skills and tools and achieving goals. Applied consistently over time, Curious Accountability increases self-knowledge and resilience and fosters effective behavior change”.

The word accountability, for many, has a negative connotation — answering to another or a feeling of being punished. In this Curious Accountability model, the focus is on learning and self discovery. Whether the task was accomplished or not, isn’t important. What is important is what the person learns from the process of doing or not doing the task.

Curious Accountability requires a contextual shift in one’s thinking to bring unwanted habits that promote disorganization into the lime light without the usual cloak of shame and blame. If we apply the same kind of curiosity, inquiry, and learning a scientist brings to their fieldwork — or Curious George brings to his daily adventures — we can free ourselves of the ever present good, bad, right or wrong rating systems we apply to our actions and efforts. We can, instead, view our actions, results, and even the “no results” through the filter of learning and exploration. Over time, we are left better problem solvers, in action, and moving towards our goals with more joy, confidence, and ease.

In this learning-focused approach, one might ask themselves at the end of a task or project (accomplished or not):

What did I learn?
What is the value of this learning to the task or overall goal?
What hurdles or “obstacles to overcome” did I discover?

Questions like these are good for illuminating what is important to us moving forward in our organizing endeavors. Should you “get stuck” in this new model, the role of the professional organizer, practiced in this technique, is to be an/a:

Active Listener – listening for the client’s goals and aspirations — long and short term
Cheerleader — keeping the person on track
Mirror – reflecting (not judging) how effective their actions are
Reminder for Self Awareness – let client’s experience inform their next actions
Involved Learner – redefine success

A professional organizer can summarize the learning as it relates to your over all goal or project leaving you ready, prepared, and empowered for your next week of Curious Accountability.

Kids may have Curious George to reveal the magic of curiosity, but adults now have Curious Accountability to propel them forward toward their goals with greater ease.

Author: Barb BermanClutter Document Management Filing General Home Office Paper Productivity Project Management Tax Prep Time Management

Tax Season is Over – Now, What Should I Do With All My Papers?

filing-systemFor most of us, tax season is over, and we can now breathe a sigh of relief for another year. If you plan to shred or recycle large quantities of paper, now is the perfect time to do so.

With a little bit of planning, you can get your paperwork in order without too much angst.

Here are 4 tips to help you:

1.  Make room for new materials by going through your filing cabinets (or wherever you keep your files).  Shred taxes and the back-up documentation older than 7 years, old bills, old insurance policies, old bank statements, or anything old that has personal identifiable information on it.  Recycle old newspaper and magazine articles, defunct travel brochures, etc.

2.  Review your filing system to determine if the way you have your files set up works well for you.  If not, for example, change the names of the files, or change the placement of the files.

3.  Set up new files for the New Year if you have not done so yet, labeling them with meaningful names, so they are easily retrievable.

4.  Check to see if your township is holding a free shred event.  Many towns do so right after tax season to help their residents dispose of their paperwork that has personal identifiable information on it.

Since organizing is an ongoing process, files will have to be tweaked and paperwork will have to be shredded or recycled periodically.  Remember, you can also get a lot of information on-line.  However, if you follow these few steps, your system will be in order for the rest of 2013, and paperwork that has to be filed will have a home.

 Now is the time to Go from Bedlam to Brilliance!

Author: Kelly GalfandChallenging Disorganization General Project Management Spiritual and Holistic

Improve your vision with a Professional Organizer

Vision ChartProfessional organizers help you bridge your old lifestyle with your new lifestyle — working with you to change habits and forge successful ones. Sometimes you need just a gentle nudge to shift from the same old ways of doing things (or not doing them at all!) to new ways.  This includes seeing through refreshed eyes — seeing your space, seeing yourself, and seeing the way you use your time.

Do you feel mired? As if you can’t quite get any traction? Organizers help break the patterns and free you to start moving again. We help you handle papers differently, approach your closet from a new perspective , and work through your projects — to completion!

Professional organizers’ eyes are judgment free. We don’t look at spaces and draw down a curtain of shame; we look to help clients understand: how did things get piled on the floor? Or why are there duplicates taking up prime real estate in your home or office? Our goal is to teach new ways of handling your stuff to clear your spaces, work surfaces, and floors from clutter. And ultimately, this will help free your mind to be even more productive.


• a new vision of themselves (you really can become an on-time person)

• a different script for their future life (you will finish this project)

• new habits to maintain order and calm (the pile on the kitchen counter isn’t a permanent fixture)

Break the hold old patterns have on your life by hiring an organizer. Organizers help you update your old operating system. We listen to what’s getting in your way and help you problem-solve HOW to do things  — step by step — so you don’t get overwhelmed. We are cheerleaders for your successes no matter how incremental. We are confidants to your pitfalls as you learn to surmount them. 

Clutter is more than a physical burden; it has an emotional claim. If you can admit that you are overwhelmed and you are open to receiving help, you have taken the first step to inviting an organizer into your life. Any space that overwhelms you probably has an organizer suited to improving the function of that area.


Author: Sue FrostChallenging Disorganization Goal Setting Productivity Project Management Time Management

Measure Once, Cut Twice

Strive-for-Progress-Not-PerfectionAs a lighthearted reminder that done is better than perfect, I sometimes intentionally reverse this adage with clients as we hang a shelf or assemble a bookcase.  Unless you’re performing brain surgery or submitting a résumé, perfect isn’t always necessary.

An ounce of perfectionism as we strive for advancement in life can serve us well.  It works in a corporate setting.  You work hard; you get ahead.  It’s the way the world works.  However, we can cross a line, and real perfectionism can actually get in our way, exhaust us, and reduce our productivity.

I see perfectionism often in my work, and clients are relieved that someone recognizes their efforts and attention to detail.  You may wonder why a perfectionist needs a Professional Organizer.  The answer is simple.  Perfectionism bogs you down in detail, and can make a task more laborious than it needs to be.  It can also lead to procrastination.

See if you relate to any of the following statements:

– If I don’t have time to organize the whole closet today, I’ll wait until I do.  There’s no sense doing a little at a time.

– I get anxious about starting a project because I don’t know how to do it the right way? Therefore, I’ll devote an inordinate amount of time to planning.

– Once started, my projects take longer than needed because I re-think them or re-work them constantly.

– I often miss deadlines because I am unable to submit a project and be satisfied with the end result.

– I don’t like asking for help and/or showing weakness.

To get moving, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your effort match the importance of the task?  If not, try dialing it back a notch.
  • Can I break this project down into smaller tasks?  If so, can I be satisfied doing those small tasks well (not perfect)?
  • Is  one of the reasons I haven’t started indecisiveness?  What do I need to know in order to get started?
  • This project or task will take as long as I allow it.  How much time does it deserve?

In closing, I offer you the following new mantras:

– Done is better than perfect.

– I did my best.

– My friends are coming to visit me, not my house.

– My boss is more likely to notice adherence to deadlines than be impressed by how much time I put into a project.

I won’t lie to you.  Change involves stretching your comfort zone, but it comes with rich rewards.

If perfectionism still stands between you and organization, consider hiring a Professional Organizer.  We’re trained to help you clear clutter and teach you systems to help maintain order.

P.S. I always measure twice, but that’s our secret.

Measuring tape


Author: Ellen TozziGoal Setting Holidays Project Management

Make Lists and Check Them Twice

Did you ever wonder how Santa gets so much done?  The secret to his success is making lists and checking them twice.


Why are lists beneficial?

–       Getting the ideas out of your head helps you to think more clearly

–       Writing (or typing) encourages a commitment to follow through

–       Reviewing lists makes prioritizing tasks easier

–       Categorizing tasks and listing baby steps help to prevent overwhelm


There’s much to be done during the holidays and lists can be a lifesaver.  The information is valuable for the current year and a great reference for holidays to come.  Create a holiday journal or use software, such as Excel spreadsheets, to stay on top of your tasks.  If others you live with use your computer, set up a password for the electronic document to keep gift-giving ideas a secret.


What to keep track of:

–       A timeline, by week, with what you plan on accomplishing, and when

–       A holiday card or eCard list – noting which style card you sent

–       Decorating – themes, details, etc.

–       Gifts – people and charities and what you plan to give

–       A shopping list – include stores, eRetailers and what you hope to purchase

–       Party planning  – menus, guests, grocery lists, etc.

–       Post-holiday review – note what worked and what didn’t


May this be a low-stress holiday season filled with high joy; and may you accomplish your goals with clarity and ease.